The looming danger of Iranian regime’s nuclear program

The looming danger of Iranian regime’s nuclear program

(File/AFP)
The international community must create a path to halt the Islamic Republic's nuclear program before it's too late (File/AFP)
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Since assuming office at the beginning of last year, the Biden administration’s primary policy regarding the Iranian regime’s nuclear program has been centered on employing diplomacy in order to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal. But after nearly two years of negotiations, progress has stalled and the White House does not seem to have any other plan to counter the Islamic Republic’s nuclear threat and prevent it from potentially obtaining nuclear weapons.

The Iranian regime is expanding its nuclear program amid the backdrop of the stalled talks. Tehran is also seeking assistance from its ally, Russia, in order to bolster its program, according to US intelligence officials. Iran has been providing drones and plans to deliver ballistic missiles to Russia. As a result, it makes sense that the Iranian leaders would seek something in return.

UK envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency Corinne Kitsell wrote on Twitter that Iran “continues its unprecedented nuclear escalation. This raises serious doubts as to the nature of Iran’s nuclear program.” In addition, diplomats from several European countries, including the UK, France and Germany, this week issued a joint statement calling the situation concerning Iran’s nuclear defiance “concerning.”

In addition, the Iranian leaders have also been stonewalling the IAEA, which monitors the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities and compliance. The regime continues to keep cameras at its nuclear facilities turned off, effectively preventing the UN nuclear watchdog from monitoring its nuclear activities, including uranium enrichment and the use of centrifuges.

This led the EU to last week point out: “For the past years, the EU has repeatedly expressed, and again reiterates today, its serious concerns at the presence of nuclear material at undeclared locations in Iran. The EU is deeply concerned that the current location of this nuclear material and/or of equipment contaminated by nuclear material, which may still exist in Iran today, is not known to the agency. On many occasions, the EU has called on Iran to provide the IAEA with the necessary explanations in accordance with the obligations under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement … Despite repeated calls for action, Iran has yet to take the necessary actions and provide technically credible explanations.”

The Iranian leaders have also been stonewalling the IAEA, which monitors the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities and compliance

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Furthermore, the Iranian regime is continuing to refuse to answer the IAEA’s questions about uranium particles found at three of its undeclared nuclear sites. And the UK, France and Germany acknowledged last year that Tehran “has no credible civilian need for uranium metal R&D (research and development) and production, which are a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon.”

The Iranian authorities claim that their nuclear program is designed for peaceful purposes. But if that is the case, why is the Islamic Republic refusing to cooperate with the IAEA and why has it shut off its cameras at the nuclear facilities? The evidence suggests that the regime wants to become a nuclear-armed state.

Based on Israel’s 2018 seizure of documents from a “nuclear archive” in Tehran, the Institute for Science and International Security explained that: “Iran intended to build five nuclear warheads, each with an explosive yield of 10 kilotons and able to be delivered by ballistic missile.”

If the theocratic establishment becomes a nuclear-armed state, it is likely that either nuclear weapons will fall into the hands of its proxy and militia groups or the regime will share its nuclear technology with them. It has already set up weapons factories abroad and manufactured advanced ballistic missiles and weapons in foreign countries, including Syria. These include precision-guided missiles with advanced technology to strike specific targets.

Furthermore, since the theocratic establishment is already supplying advanced weapons to its proxies, what would stop it from sharing its nuclear technology to empower these groups, undermine its perceived adversaries’ national security interests and expand its reach? As a UN report revealed: “An increasing body of evidence suggests that individuals or entities in the Islamic Republic of Iran supply significant volumes of weapons and components to the Houthis.”

In a nutshell, since President Joe Biden assumed office, the Iranian regime has been making major advances in its controversial nuclear research and defying the IAEA. The international community must immediately chart a path to halt the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program before it is too late.

  • Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh
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